The Washington Post noticed today that Rep. Steny Hoyer made a racial boo-boo on Sunday, that black Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele has "a career of slavishly supporting the Republican Party." In 2002, Hoyer denounced Steele as a "token." Did the Post paste it at the top of the front page? No, it’s on B-2. It’s a lot different than the long-running, transparently partisan "Macaca" campaign waged by Michael Shear, Tim Craig and the rest of the Post against Sen. George Allen. (Today’s Nexis count: 92 Post articles, news and editorial, with the word "Macaca." Four of them were news accounts on the front page.)
Ann Marimow’s story couldn’t match the Shear & Craig treatment. Where they dropped "Macaca" in every story they could work it in, Marimow did not remind the Post reader that Steele’s Democratic Senate opponent, Rep. Ben Cardin, fired a junior staffer for blogging about being a "sex object" for Cardin's Jewish friends and alleged that the attempted discipline of a black campaign staffer failed because "he plays the racism card, the magic passport to a different chain of command." (The Post reported the firing on September 15, and Marimow mentioned it vaguely on October 4. That’s about 92 to 2.)
Marimow reported on Steele’s reaction:
After speaking to members of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce gathered in Ocean City, Steele called the description "the height of arrogance."
"It goes to just the sheer craziness of some in the Democratic Party who think they can use racist terms and infer things about me just because I'm an African American Republican," he said.
Steele added that he expects his Democratic opponent, Benjamin L. Cardin, to "stand up and tell his team to sit down and shut up, stop the noise and apologize."
Hoyer's comments, first reported by MSNBC, came Sunday as he was introducing Cardin to a group of black business owners in Upper Marlboro, and his choice of words did not cause a visible reaction from the crowd.
Conservatives, as foes of political correctness and racial hypersensitivity, feel the urge to give Hoyer a pass for this slip of the tongue. (Rush Limbaugh said as much in an interview this morning on his DC station, WMAL-AM.) But it's hard to argue that Allen's comment was so much more vicious than Hoyer's. Part of the aggression against Allen was his growing national profile. The same could be said for Hoyer, who could be the next House Majority Leader if Democrats win the House. It’s also hypocritical for Posties to assume that Hoyer simply made a simple, unconscious verbal miscue. They never assumed Allen just made a boo-boo. They treated his statement as if he’d taken the Webb staffer he mocked, S. R. Sidarth, and slapped him in front of the crowd for laughs...or called him "Macaca" and threw him a banana.
Over at National Review Online, a "Steele guy" also noted Hoyer called Steele a "token" in the past:
At A Meeting With Reporters Monday, Mr. Ehrlich Denounced Characterizations Of Mr. Steele By Some Democrats, Noting That Rep. Steny H. Hoyer Called Mr. Steele A ‘Token’ …" (Margie Hyslop, "NAACP To Grill Townsend, Ehrlich," The Washington Times, 7/17/02)
UPDATE: And a reader chimes in:
Umm, the Minority Whip just called a black politician a slave and this isn’t news? It is if for no other reason than Steny Hoyer just conceded the Speaker of the House to Nancy Pelosi.
Actually, Hoyer's in line for the Majority Leader race with....John Murtha.